Going on a family safari is a great way for children to unplug from their usual attachments and to let their imaginations soar by taking in all the fascinating sights of the African bush. But you may have some questions about how to plan a family safari depending on how young your children are. The majority of private game reserves and safari operators do not accept children under a specific age. This age limitation typically applies to children under the age of 8, but sometimes the specified age limit could extend as high as 12. This age limit is a factor mainly for safety reasons.
Age limits for children on safari are specified because animals frequently respond to something that is younger, slower, or smaller than they are in an unpredictable way. While you may think that your six- or seven-year-old is quite fond of a myriad of animals and bugs, you would be surprised how overwhelmed children can become when displaced from the structured comfort of their home and backyard by the size and multitude of African insects and wildlife.
Another option for younger-aged children on safari is to consider booking a private safari where no other people are involved and you can dictate the schedule. Numerous private safari lodges will rent you the entire property for the length of your stay; accordingly, this is the only way these camps will allow children under the age of 8 on safari.
Be advised, however, that babies and toddlers still are not allowed out on game-viewing trips even if you have rented the entire camp. Furthermore, going on safari with babies is not recommended. Certain lodges, such as specific ones at Mala Mala, provide baby-sitting services for infants, but babies are rarely allowed out in safari vehicles.
Ultimately, you should consider the following factors when determining if you should bring children to a private safari lodge:
- Are the children afraid of the dark? A camp the runs on generator-powered batteries will have minimal lights at night
- Are the children easily startled? Large animals may come too close for comfort in rooms, tents, or near safari vehicles
- Are the children afraid of bugs? Remember that the African bush is filled with moths as large as small birds in addition to myriad other flying and crawling insects.
- Are the children picky eaters? Meals are usually buffet style and your child’s favorite foods may not be available.